Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

IFA: We won't refund 'compulsory' levy to tillage farmers

Refusal flies in face of President's promise to farmers

IFA President Joe Healy pictured with Bryan Barry, IFA Assistant General Secretary and Richard Kennedy Deputy President. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
IFA President Joe Healy pictured with Bryan Barry, IFA Assistant General Secretary and Richard Kennedy Deputy President. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The IFA has confirmed that it will not pay back any levies paid by malting barley farmers through a compulsory levy collection system it has in operation with Boortmalt

IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy told today that the agreement between malting barley producer Boortmalt and IFA, which was agreed when Boortmalt set up operations in Ireland, includes a compulsory levy on tillage farmers.

The 39c/t levy is part of all contracts Boortmalt has with tillage farmers and means that farmers must agree to allow Boortmalt collect the levy for IFA.

Boortmalt confirmed that it bought over 125,000t of malting barley from Irish farmers last year, which would account for approximately €48,750 in levies collected for IFA. The levy is applied to all Boortmalt suppliers, whether they are IFA members or not.

IFA previously said that any farmer looking to recoup levies could do so.

Now, however, Kennedy has said that tillage farmers supplying Boortmalt cannot claim back these levies.

"Farmers can not claim back the levy. A contract was agreed between Boortmalt and IFA when Boortmalt was set up in Ireland and part of that is a compulsory levy. The money can not be got back now."

He said IFA was 'entitled' to collect the levy and keep it because of the work it has done to improve the tillage sector in Ireland. "IFA has grown the industry and farmers have benefited from the work IFA has done.

Also Read

"Every tillage farmer benefited from the work IFA has done in tillage."

Kennedy said the levies could not be recouped by these farmers.

Further the farmers have documents that show they are entitled to claim back the levy which is collected.

The documentation states that: "Should you not want to contribute to this valuable work on your behalf, please forward your original purchase dockets showing the levy deductions..."

However, a number of tillage farmers say they have written to IFA HQ in recent years, looking to claim back their levies, but that they received no response.

The 39c/t levy comprises a 19c/t contribution towards IFA representation; a 12c/t levy for UCD and Teagasc research; and a 7c/t levy to promote farm-to-farm trade through IFA.

Earlier this year, IFA President Joe Healy had said that any farmer who was not happy with paying levies could reclaim them.

“There is a process there and there is a time period on it, which has always been there, of a year…but there is a lot of people out there who want to pay a levy.

“The new structure will give everyone the opportunity to pay the levy or opt out of paying the levy.” 

The process to reclaim levies, he said, was to get in touch with IFA HQ," he said at the time.

According to IFA, the collection of the Boortmalt levy is part of the terms and conditions of the Boortmalt contract. "Every grower is made aware of the levy."

Fianna Fail's Eamon O Cuiv said he was "very disappointed" that the IFA does not seem to accept that these levies are not their right, but they should be given by farmers of their own volition. "It may be in a contract but it is a human principal that a voluntary organisation should operate on voluntary subscriptions, not on compulsory levies."

IFA has collected nearly €5m in levies, including a European Involvement Fund (EIF) levy, that is collected on produce sales to co-ops, meat factories, and livestock throughput at marts, etc at 15 cents per €100 by deduction from farmer payments.

Earlier this year the IFA admitted that it had suffered a €1.4m hit in overall revenue.

Online Editors

More in Tillage